Future Food Quick Bites: Pasta Partnerships, Killer Commercials & Christmas Incoming
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In our weekly column, we round up the latest news and developments in the alternative protein and sustainable food industry. This week, Future Food Quick Bites covers an upcycled pasta partnership at Cambridge, the UK getting into Christmas mode, and anti-dairy advertising that’s sure to ruffle some feathers.
New products and launches
Happy World Vegan Day (and Month)! To kick it off, upcycled food producer The Supplant Company is putting its Grain & Stalk Flour pasta on the catering menus of the University of Cambridge – a sweet homecoming for the brand that has its roots in the Department of Biochemistry, where founder Tom Simmons was a research scientist. Magdalene College will be subbing regular pasta for Supplant’s in a vegetarian mac and cheese and a meat-based carbonara, starting tomorrow.
Speaking of carbonara, Finnish ready meals brand REBL Eats has partnered with French vegan bacon brand La Vie to launch a ready-to-eat plant-based carbonara featuring the latter’s lardons at Kesko K-Group stores in Finland.
In more bacon news, Spanish companies Foodys and Cocuus have launched a 3D-printed vegan bacon SKU. It will be available in 120g packs at Carrefour fridges in the country starting this month.
Fellow Spanish brand NuVeg, meanwhile, is marking World Vegan Day by officially launching today with a range of dehydrated vegan dishes. Think vegan eggs, chicken curry, crepes, protein broth and bolognese.
In the US, meanwhile, New York-based vegan Italian restaurant Coletta is now serving Oshi‘s 3D-printed salmon in a limited-edition Seared Balsamic Salmon dish with vegan parmesan, chive polenta, thyme-roasted broccoli and lemon.
Also in New York’s plant-based Italian scene, Daiya opened the Slice Club, a vegan pizza slice pop-up at the Two Boots in the West Village last Friday, serving free pizza to 500 customers. It will bring the concept to other US cities in the future.
If you’re looking got more vegan fast food, Canada’s Odd Burger has entered retail with a line of burgers, sausages and fillets featuring beef, pork and chicken analogues. They can be found at all Odd Burger locations, as well as stores in Toronto, London (Ontario), Hamilton and Kitchener.
Elsewhere, in Malaysia, retail and foodservice operator Berjaya Food has announced an expansion of its vegan offering across its sites. The company operates all Starbucks stores in the country, as well as a vegan Latin American restaurant and two alt-dairy brands.
If you’re in the UK, you might be familiar with the immediate post-Halloween Christmas craze. It has already begun, starting with its largest supermarket Tesco unveiling its Christmas 2023 range, which features a bunch of vegan products. There’s Butternut Wellington, Battered Bangers with Curry Sauce, Mushroom and Chestnut Festive Wreath, Stem Ginger Tiffin Crackers and two roast turkey SKUs.
Then there’s the Upfield-owned cream brand Elmlea, which has launched a brandy-flavoured vegan cream made from lentil protein and vegetable oils. But it doesn’t contain any booze, so anyone can have it.
And vegan deli meat maker Shocken Foods will release its plant-based foie gras, ‘nduja and meatballs in time for Christmas. The brand was co-founded by Emma Bowe, a former chef at Heston Blumenthal’s Mandarin Oriental restaurant.
Funding, manufacturing and finance news
German vegan seafood maker Happy Ocean Foods, which makes products like plant-based tuna, seafood and shrimp, has raised €1.5M in a seed funding round from Companisto.
WebrestaurantStore, an online foodservice retailer in the US, has reported a 110% year-on-year growth ($3B) in revenue in 2022, with plant-based consumables a key growth factor.
Cellular agriculture as a category has raised double the investments of Q3 2023 within the first few weeks of Q4. While a total of $40.2M was raised in Q3, five fundings disclosed this quarter have amounted to $81.5M, including Eden Brew, Bon Vivant and BlueNalu.
Meanwhile, the chicken nugget market is expected to grow by 12% annually by 2029, and the snack bars segment is set to surpass $16.5B by 2032. And the global plant-based milk sector is anticipated to expand annually by 6.38% to 2028.
In the Netherlands, supermarket chain Jumbo has committed to make 60% of all its protein offerings plant-based by 2030, with plans to expand its Lekker Veggie vegan brand in 2024.
Former Impossible Foods executive Don DiMasi has joined Californian food tech company Yali Bio as a senior VP for engineering and biomanufacturing. The company engineers precision-fermented lipids and fats for the plant-based industry.
Aussie startup Nourish Ingredients, meanwhile, which creates animal-like fats for plant proteins, has expanded its manufacturing processes to Singapore, joining hands with ScaleUp Bio, a joint venture between Temasek-owned Nurasa and ingredients giant ADM.
However, ADM has “re-scoped” its plant protein investment in its Decatur, Illinois facility in the US to “better match” the weakening demand for meat alternatives and an explosion at its West plant.
Also in Illinois, the Illinois Fermentation and Agriculture Biomanufacturing Hub, which works on precision fermentation crops like soy and corn, was named as one of 31 new Regional Innovation and Technology Hubs by the Biden-Harris administration.
Elsewhere, German equipment manufacturer Bühler says it will open five application and training centres in Switzerland, two of which will complement its plant-based protein processing infrastructure.
In the US, two women-owned startups, Taimat Scienses and Biomilq, have collaborated on a project to show how a plant-based recombinant protein can be just as effective as its commercially available alternative, and 10 times more affordable.
Policy, research and events
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has updated its labelling policies on meat alternatives, clarifying that substitutes that don’t have the appearance of conventional meat don’t need to be labelled as ‘simulated’, and terms like ‘veggie burger’ and ‘soy sausage’ are fair game.
In the UK, Adfree Cities – a group challenging corporate outdoor advertising – is calling for a ban on meat advertising in the UK, arguing that it should be prohibited just as tobacco commercials were for their detrimental effects. The campaign is called The Cows Aren’t Laughing.
The US is seeing a similar rhetoric played out. Switch4Good, the dairy-free advocacy group founded by Olympian Dotsie Bausch, has launched a Killer Milk billboard ad campaign, citing a 2021 study revealing that cow’s milk is the “leading cause of fatal anaphylaxis among school children”.
Along the same lines, Bausch joined two other women – Marielle Williamson and Yen Ang – to support the ADD SOY Act (Addressing Digestive Distress in Stomachs of our Youth) proposed by four senators to give schoolchildren a dairy-free snack choice.
In Germany, Europe’s leading vegan market, a study by sustainable food advocacy group ProVeg International has revealed that plant-based food is approaching price parity, with the cost difference between vegan and conventional products dropping from 53% to 25% in one year. Recently, supermarkets Lidl and Kaufland announced they were matching the cost of plant-based alternatives to their animal-derived counterparts.
New research by Burger King and The Vegetarian Butcher has found that 73% of Brits would choose meat over plant-based options if given the choice, with 48% citing taste as the major reason. Nearly three in 10 (30%) say they want to live a flexitarian lifestyle.
In event news, VegFest UK is taking place this month in London (November 18-19). The conference will play host to Vegan Business Tribe Live, which will see speakers from leading plant-based brands in the UK, including THIS, One Planet Pizza, and Better Nature.
Finally, with another round of Veganuary fast approaching, a six-month survey found that 28% of the participants who responded stuck to a plant-based diet post-January, while 52% claimed to have reduced animal product consumption by 50% or higher. It comes a week after the campaign launched a trailer for its upcoming documentary.